This legislative session, Illuminate Colorado advocated for 25 bills that would promote protective factors to prevent child maltreatment and strengthen families. These bills ranged across many areas of focus, including access to healthcare, economic supports, housing stability, child welfare system involvement, and more, all aligning with our 2023 policy priorities. Of the bills Illuminate supported, 21 passed. Illuminate also advocated for two budget priorities, both of which succeeded.

We at Illuminate Colorado are grateful to our partners for their collaboration, leadership, and dedication to advocating for legislation that strengthens families and prevents child maltreatment.

Highlights from the 2023 session included:

  • In support of the Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) budget request, Illuminate Colorado sought continuous funding for Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Training. Included in the Long Bill (SB23-214), the legislature restored an annual $150,000 in funding to the Colorado Child Abuse Prevention Trust Fund for the purpose of Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Training. This funding dedicates resources to evidence-informed trainings that prepare adults with tools to prevent, identify, and respond to child sexual abuse. Interested in getting trained and becoming one of over 8,000 adults in Colorado committed to preventing child sexual abuse? Visit Tip Colorado to learn more about this free 2-hour training.

Visit Tip Colorado to learn more about the free 2-hour training.

  • Colorado banned use of corporal punishment in licensed child care settings, public schools, and group facilities. As one of Prevent Child Abuse America’s 2023 state policy priorities, eliminating the use of corporal punishment in schools, such as spanking and paddling, is an important step to shifting culture surrounding discipline and promoting positive responses and discipline strategies for children. HB23-1191 seeks to promote healthy child development and positive, evidence-based discipline approaches by eliminating use of corporal punishment in child care settings, public schools, and group facilities.
  • Legislators in Colorado focused on building sustainable funding and increasing access to vital healthcare for youth, pregnant people, and new parents who receive Medicaid through SB23-002, SB23-174, SB23-288, and HB23-1300. These bills will increase access to community health services, doulas during pregnancy and postpartum periods, and youth behavioral health services without a diagnosis, and will establish continuous eligibility for children ages 0-3. These bills aim to utilize evidence-based measures to reduce gaps in care and increase equity in the healthcare system for underserved communities that experience increased health risks due to social determinants of health, including racism and poverty.
  • Several bills sought to increase economic supports for families through Colorado’s tax code, including HB23-1006, HB23-1112, and HB23-1311. These bills will result in additional income for low-income families through increased awareness of vital tax credits, increased access to larger amounts in tax credits, and a ballot measure that, if passed, would result in a flat TABOR rebate for all Coloradans who file taxes.
  • Legislators also addressed concerns within the child welfare system, and passed several bills that clarify and enhance processes to increase kin placement and reduce family separation. HB23-1024 and HB23-1043 are two bills that will increase relative and kin involvement when a child is removed from home. In response to concerns that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) may be overturned later this year by the U.S. Supreme Court in a judgment on Haaland v. Brackeen, legislators developed SB23-211, which further implements ICWA and its related federal regulations into Colorado statute, in partnership with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.
  • The legislature aimed to increase equitable outcomes in eviction proceedings through HB23-1120 and HB23-1186. In recognition that the majority of people who face eviction do so without legal representation, these bills will make court and eviction processes more accessible by requiring mediation before an eviction is filed for people who receive cash assistance, including SSDI and TANF, and requiring remote options for court participation in eviction proceedings.

In doing so, these bills aim to increase participation of tenants in these processes and create additional opportunities for families to remain housed.

  • In addition to addressing child welfare through legislation, the Legislative Council approved a request to form the Child Welfare System Interim Study Committee. The committee is tasked with studying various topics, including prevention services, intervention services, system processes, social determinants of child welfare system involvement, and more. The committee will consist of 11 members of the legislature and may introduce 5 bills in the 2024 legislative session to address issues studied. We at Illuminate Colorado were grateful to be included in the list of agencies that may provide assistance and information to the Committee and are excited to lend our expertise to this process.

What’s next?

  • Advocate for family strengthening and policies that build protective factors to prevent child maltreatment through policy implementation activities.
  • Provide support and expertise to the newly formed Child Welfare System Interim Study Committee.
  • Provide support and expertise to the Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Study Committee.
  • Continue to identify family strengthening policy needs and challenges through the coalitions Illuminate convenes. Join us
  • Advocate for federal legislation that promotes and invests in programs that strengthen families, including advocating for the reintroduction and advancement of the FASD Respect Act.
  • Advocate for ballot measures that strengthen families, including Proposition EE resulting from HB23-1290, which would retain funding for Universal Pre-K.
  • Advocate for legislation that did not pass this legislative session, including policy that promotes economic security and substance free spaces.
  • Continue to collaborate with our partners in prevention and the Colorado General Assembly to advocate for future state legislation that promotes Illuminate Colorado’s policy priorities and mission to strengthen families, organizations and communities to prevent child maltreatment.

Visit the full 2023 Legislative Session Recap to learn more about all the bills impacting family well-being that passed this session and what is next for Illuminate’s policy work.

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